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There’s a guy literally growling in the background

In the higher realms of academia, people who are pursuing their doctorate degrees famously get to a point in their studies where they must write a massive book sized story about their studies. They call this their “dissertation” and in theory this summarizes some original research they’ve done to expand the boundaries of whatever they are studying. Sometimes you can take your dissertation and then turn it into a book, fun!

Anyway, after you’ve written your dissertation you get to a stage where you must DEFEND it to your COMMITTEE. This entails talking to a bunch of people about your pages and them either challenging and/or agreeing with your various highlights. Presumably there’s a whole spectrum of feedback ranging from “I barely want to be here and I barely even read your paper” all the way up to a more formal grilling or dressing down. By the way, grilling and dressing down are things you can do chickens and also doctoral candidates.

One cool innovation that I’d love to see some higher ed department take is to turn the dissertation defense process into an actual defense. You’d have the doctoral candidate print out their dissertation and staple it together and put it in the middle of a big academic room full of desks and books and quill feathers and ink and stuff. The academic committee would all get dressed up in topic appropriate costumes. Like if you are studying medieval history they’d all be knights or lords and ladies or something. If you are studying astrophysics you’d get a mix of alien costumes and spacesuits and stuff.

Anyway once everyone was all set someone would blow a whistle or blare a trumpet or something, and then your committee would straight up ATTACK you and your thesis. Like, with their fists and kicks (and any weapons they could secure in the hall itself). The doctoral candidate would have to defend their dissertation at all costs, not allowing it to be captured or bloodstained throughout the entire ordeal. You’d probably want to let them arm themselves with something non-lethal. Maybe a can of tennis balls or a high velocity nerf weapon or something.

As a nice by-product here, you could totally film these things and have some sort of Netflix game show episodes come out the other side.

The battery capacity had never been tested so thoroughly

The 2014 film American Sniper is either a pretty solid war film, or a pretty solid propaganda piece, depending what mood you’re in. At the beginning of the film, the main character (who indeed goes on to become the titular Sniper of America) is told an anecdote by his father which sets up his role later in the movie.

His father tells him that there are three types of people in the world: sheep, wolves, and sheepdogs. The sheep are the blind masses who don’t see evil in the world and don’t know how to deal with it; the wolves use violence to prey on the weak sheep; and the sheepdogs use violence and aggression to protect the flock of sheep. One does not need an MFA in film to realize that the father is encouraging and instructing his sons to be the sheepdogs, and later in the film during the times when he’s straight up sniping people in his capacity as the American Sniper, one could argue that he is indeed being a sheepdog of a sort. Again, all of this really depends on what mood you’re in and what context you want to look at it from. It’s pretty jacked up sometimes.

Anyway, I think a cool twist in the film would have been to have the same beginning part, but then during the time when the guy is joining the military to eventually become the Sniper of America, he instead has a powerful moment where he recalls his fathers words — but instead of taking them as a metaphor and continuing on his path to snipe people in his role as an elite sniper, he takes the quote very literally and instead decides to become an actual sheepdog, in as much as that is possible for a former elite military person to pull off.

This would give a whole different flavor to the second and third acts of the film. You could have him at a costume store trying on all different sorts of dog costumes, and eventually finding one that was sufficiently American for his liking. Then you’d have like a bootcamp style scene but instead of him struggling to climb over a wall with ropes, he’d be struggling to learn to run on all fours in the style of a dog, instead of two legs like a human. Maybe there’d be an intense, gripping, edge-of-your-seat scene where a literal wolf was actually encroaching on the flock of sheep and he had to like, wrestle it or whatever, but from inside of his sweet dog costume.

You gotta figure that the flock of sheep might be like what the hell this thing sort of looks like one of those dogs that chase us around but he smells sort of like a person and can’t exactly run as fast as the other dogs do. They’d probably still flock around like normal?

There would be way less in the way of actual military-style sniping, because I’m frankly not even sure that sniping is in the toolbox of a sheepdog. They don’t have thumbs and presumably can’t operate a fire-arm. I guess they could use their entire body as a projectile and be hiding behind a rock or something and then just friggin launch themselves fast and straight onto an unsuspecting wolf as it rounds the corner.

I’m not sure how audiences would have reacted to this change. Would it be more or less controversial than the actual film that was made? The actual film is the highest-grossing war film ever, I think. I’m not sure if the audience for “vaguely accurate but also sort of propaganda war film about military heroism” films is bigger or smaller than “what the hell just happened there, why did that guy get a dog costume?” films.

Sadly, because of my lack of clout and pull in Hollywood, we may never find out, and American Sheepdog may never get made.